Jumping Dolphins in Ocean Beach

by on July 11, 2012 · 10 comments

in Environment, Ocean Beach, Popular

The dolphins we watched jumped like this. This is not a photo of what we saw, as this photo was taken by Don Wells in 2006 somewhere else.

After going to the beach during the summer in OB for fifty years, I have never seen such a dramatic display of dolphin drama as a pod demonstrated yesterday – July 10th – just beyond the breaker line in South OB.

I was sitting with two friends waiting for the wind to die down, for the waves to get less choppy, and for the conditions in general to get better. We were sitting next to a firepit just north of Tower Two when all of a sudden my friends yelled out. What?

Dolphins jumping!  Right there – right beyond the breakers!

My gaze – now focused – scanned the waters in front of the OB Pier – and there they were: an entire squad of slippery, silvery sea mammals playing, romping – yes, even jumping into the air.

Our oohs and ahhs continued as other beach-goers also discovered the delightful display of dolphin behavior. People started standing up, some grabbed their cameras.  My own camera was off in the parking lot submerged in my other surfing paraphernalia in the car.

We sat and we watched. It was spectacular. And wow! Two dolphins simultaneously jumped totally out of the water for a brief, brisk moment – right next to each other. I’ve never seen that in the wild.

We began speculating … maybe these jumping guys were escapees from SeaWorld, or perhaps there was a “fish boil” right where they were hanging out.

It continued for many minutes, seeing the fins and the jumps, between the breaker line and the orange buoy bobbing out there.  We estimated as many as half a dozen dolphins were putting on a show for us – unequaled in my half century of hangin on the beach waiting for the surf to get better.

But this was better than a SeaWorld show, this was better than Comic-Con, this was better than any entertainment I’ve ever seen at the beach and in the surf.

Jumping dolphins in OB. Sweet.


{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Christopher Moore July 11, 2012 at 12:33 pm

Awesome, wish I’d seen it.


ob mercy July 11, 2012 at 1:44 pm

This was and still is an everyday sight in Malibu where I grew up going to the beach. I always wondered why I haven’t seen it OB in the last 3 summers I have lived here. It’s awesome to know it does happen here. I just pray I will see them too on one of my days off.


Frank Gormlie July 13, 2012 at 8:58 am

OB Mercy – you live a charmed life. Several years ago, I was out in the water beyond the breakers waiting for a swell with my buddy Jon C – we were both sitting on our boggie boards. Off to my right, I saw movement in the water. I looked over – t here were 3 dolphins heading my way just skimming the surface of the ocean. What do you do when three large animals start towards you? It was exhilarating and a bit scary as they swam within inches of my board, with my just sitting there. Wow, and now this.


dave rice July 11, 2012 at 10:03 pm

Too cool – thanks for sharing Frank, pictures or not! But I’d have hardly imagined you as a surfer – you seem way too chill to be one of the people whose description around here seems to resemble that of a Nazi with hemmorhoids…


Frank Gormlie July 12, 2012 at 6:19 am

Well, Dave, I don’t surf any more, I stay on my boogie board – still surfing.


mr.rick July 12, 2012 at 12:25 am

Around 40 years or so ago a pod of 20 or so swam by about 50 yards from the end of the pier. I was just getting on the cliffs when I spotted them. I ran as fast as I could to the point just past the stairs as Santa Cruz . The were probably down by no surf by then. They were going some where . I did get to see a Humpback Whale go off for about a half an hour off Kauai’s south shore.


mr.rick July 13, 2012 at 9:24 pm

Frank, sponges are alright as wave exploration devices. Getting a few seconds in a barrel every now and then should compensate for any doubt about being a boogie boarder. You can get waves, guys with regular boards would get a ticket for riding. Stuff your melon in a nice little left tube for me.


Citizen Cane July 14, 2012 at 9:28 pm

Maybe the dolphins were affected by the marshmellow pollution at Ocean Beach??

Sponge boogies are common, but that doesn’t make them OK. People need to shun the plastic industrial surfcraft complex. There will be a show of wooden surfcraft at Torrey Pines in 2 weeks. Join the green surf movement:



John July 17, 2012 at 11:24 pm

What about the poor trees!


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